Meal in Maldon

Green Lifestyle magazine

Possessing a hearty blend of historic buildings, picturesque countryside and passionate food producers, Maldon is an old town forging a golden future.


The Kangaroo Hotel, Maldon, Victoria.


The Beehive Shed, Maldon, Victoria.

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Australian country towns each have their own distinct personalities yet they seem to excel at the same thing:
bakeries that produce cakes of supreme deliciousness, classic pubs (almost always with a dog or few waiting patiently outside in the sun) and wide, main streets peppered with heritage buildings. Victoria’s Maldon is no exception to this, except that the National Trust has made Maldon the exception by honouring the town with a few special mentions, including deeming Maldon ‘Australia’s first Notable Town’ in 1966 and then 40 years later naming Maldon home to the ‘most intact historic landscape’ in Victoria.

Beginning in 1854, Maldon was once a busy hub born from the gold rush that struck the region. Traces of those heady days remain, with miner’s cottages and ramshackle buildings, sheds and shacks displaying faded signage still standing in the town. Maldon’s history is fascinating and a visit to the Maldon District Museum, a ride on the Victorian Goldfields Railway (which connects Maldon and Castlemaine) or excursion to a mine once used during the gold rush are great ways to be immersed in the history. Local folklore can also be picked up other ways – piece by piece while visiting local pubs and antique shops, as well as places like the local cemetery, the final resting place of many miners and notable locals.

Despite appearances, Maldon isn’t dwelling on its past. Now much more than its gold rush history, Maldon has grown into a 1500-strong community of people who are not only connected to their history, but also the land that surrounds them. Local producers are respected here and this commitment is evident everywhere, but particularly at the Maldon 50K Local shop, sitting on the corner of Main St. With more than 80 per cent of the stock being sourced (made or grown) from within a 50 km radius, Maldon 50K Local is a simple store (a ‘cash only, cardboard boxes instead of bags’ type of place) that provides good quality produce at fair prices – for both the farmer and the customer. The concept isn’t all about reducing food miles, it’s also about supporting local producers and growers. Apart from fruit and veg, the store also stocks muesli, honey, bread, olive oil, coffee and dairy products, with the locally produced peanut butter and biodynamic pasta being standouts.

Nearby, the Saturday markets provide another outlet for locals to sell their harvest. Stallholders are generally a nice mix of proud people, from backyard growers keen to show off their supersized, organic cucumbers, to handy home cooks selling everything from pastries to marinated olives. Visitors can buy lunch here, however Zen Eden, a warm café that serves vegetarian food and chai tea, is perfect for a pit stop too.

Further afield, the surrounding hamlets have their own vibe. Castlemaine, home to an impressive, vintage theatre, is a magnet for artists and makers. It’s unsurprising there has been an exodus of city folk moving to Castlemaine, lured by the space and slower pace of life offered here. Sleepy Newstead might not be on the radar for most Australians but is well worth a diversion, if not for the heritage buildings then perhaps to check some emails (Newstead is a town with free wifi).

Hundreds of years ago, people travelled to Maldon and the Goldfields region to strike it lucky. These days visitors should also consider themselves pretty lucky when considering the amount of riches still on offer.

Getting there:

Maldon is located in the Central Goldfields region of Victoria, a 1½-2 hour drive from Melbourne. Alternatively, reduce your emissions by catching the V/Line train to Castlemaine, with connecting bus service to Maldon. www.vline.com.au

Staying there:

The Goldfields region is scattered with historic miner’s cottages, weatherboard stayers and classic pubs with accommodation.

With a top location right on Main St and a rustic feel, the Beehive apartment is a great place to bed down after a day of fossicking in antique shops. Phone: 03 5475 1154

To stay somewhere with some green cred, retreat to nearby Shack 14, which has its own water supply and treats waste organically. www.shack14.com.au

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